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Celine Harris’ inheritance hinged on one tiny detail. She needed to marry. Her father will do anything to get access to that money, include marrying her off to the highest bidder. She didn’t expect the shifter she’d been secretly crushing on to step up…
Mason Knight was building an empire. That took time, and nearly all his effort. He didn’t have time for dating, nevermind marriage. But…it’s Celine and he nor his panther wanted to let her slip through his fingers.
Celine thought she could breathe easier with Mason coming to her rescue, but money and family never mixed…and she was about to find out the hard way.
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The anger rippling through Celine’s chest was making it impossible to breathe. Her hands shook, and tears clogged her throat. The tears were from the rage, but helplessness and grief were battling. Grief for the grandfather she’d lost and anger for the predicament his death had put her in. Celine and her mother were gathered in her father’s home office, both in differing states of shock. Black bookshelves covered three of the four walls of the stately room, filled to the brim with lengthy, leather-bound tomes. The carpet was thick, equally dark, and suffocating, as were the gray floor-to-ceiling curtains over the windows.
She needed to get out.
“Virgil, is this true?” Her mother stood next to her, facing her father, shock blanching the color from her mother’s face. “Celine in no way should inherit my father’s holdings.” Celine’s hands shook, and she clenched them together in front of her to stop them. She and her mother were clearly shocked for different reasons. Veronica was upset that the inheritance she had banked on would go to her only child. But then, Celine wasn’t at all surprised that Veronica was only thinking of herself. Her mother had never really given much thought to Celine unless it was to parade her in front of her grandfather when she needed to ask him for a favor.
“The will states that Celine has to be married before she can inherit. If the terms are not followed, to the letter, it reverts to you and your sisters.” Virgil sent Celine an irritated look.
Her father was a handsome man. His rugged countenance was clean-shaven and all sharp angles. His deep-set eyes had never been anything other than hard when aimed her way. Right now, his thick brows were furrowed with aggravation at having the two women in his life questioning him.
“Then fine, she won’t get married,” Veronica said and flipped her carefully colored, bone-straight hair over her trim shoulder.
Her mother’s cocoa skin was rigorously maintained with weekly appointments for facials and shone clear and supple, defying her fifty years on the Earth. The charcoal slacks and crisp white shirt was her version of dressed down, and as Veronica faced her husband, the gold bangles on her wrist clicked against each other, broadcasting her irritation with their current situation.
Celine looked down at her faux leather leggings and white t-shirt. Unlike her parents, she didn’t think a meeting with them warranted dressing up. Of course, Veronica had told her all the many ways she was wrong about that.
“I’m not letting your sisters get their hands on Alan’s holdings when I can get it all if Celine marries,” he gritted out.
So lovely to be considered.
Celine kept that thought to herself. She’d never dare utter something like that where her father could hear. She pushed down on her panther as it tried to infuse its power into her. She didn’t need the added stress. She was biting down on her tongue as it was. Her panther’s strength would make her say something she would pay for later.
“Do I have any say in this?” Celine asked though she knew it was futile.
Her father’s panther lit his eyes, gold breaking through the normal dark brown. “What could you possibly say, Celine? You’re twenty-six and making no move to marry on your own. I want those holdings.”
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